Top cleric urges supporters not to attack US as Donald Trump says regime has backed down - latest news

James Rothwell
 Iraqi security forces find and collect the pieces of missiles as they gather to inspect the site after Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) targeted Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq, a facility jointly operated by U.S. and Iraqi forces, at Bardarash district of Erbil in Iraq - Anadolu

A senior Iraqi cleric has urged supporters not to attack the United States, shortly after Donald Trump said Iran appeared to be backing down from its bellicose threats. 

"I call on the Iraqi factions to be deliberate, patient, and not to start military actions, and to shut down the extremist voices of some rogue elements until all political, parliamentary and international methods have been exhausted,"  said influential Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

It came after Donald Trump urged Britain and others to "recognise reality" and withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal in response to an Iranian missile strike on US forces in Iraq earlier on Wednesday. 

The US president said Iran appeared to be backing down after it fired the 22 missiles, but announced fresh sanctions on Iran and 

And he singled out the United Kingdom as one of the members of the ailing nuclear deal, urging Boris Johnson to follow America's lead and withdraw from the pact. Mr Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018. 

"The very defective JCPOA expires shortly anyway and gives Iran a clear and quick path to nuclear breakout," he told a press conference at the White House.

"Iran must abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism...the time has come for the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and China to recognise this reality."

He added: "They must now break away from the remnants of the Iran deal - or JCPOA - and we must all work together towards making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place."

It came as US officials speculated that Iran 'aimed to miss' when it fired missiles at US forces, it emerged there were no casualties in the rocket barrage. 

 Iraqi security forces find and collect the pieces of missiles as they gather to inspect the site after Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) targeted Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq, a facility jointly operated by U.S. and Iraqi forces, at Bardarash district of Erbil in Iraq Credit: Andalou

According to Bloomberg, a US official said that no Americans were killed in the strike, leading the Pentagon to believe that the Iranian regime was "aiming to miss." 

However, experts said the type of missile Iran used was notoriously unreliable, and that the regime may well have missed targets by accident. 

It came as Boris Johnson has said he opposes any "escalation of violence" in the Middle East, as he urged Iran not to repeat its missile attacks that struck US bases in Iraq overnight and called for them to back down from conflict.

The Prime Minister, who added that there appeared to be no UK casualties following the strike on Western forces, called on Iran to pursue "urgent de-escalation." 

As details emerged of the retaliatory strikes, where 22 missiles were fired, foreign secretary Dominic Raab said: "We urge Iran not to repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks, and instead to pursue urgent de-escalation."

The rockets from Iran struck US targets last night, hitting two Iraqi airbases where American and coalition forces are based.

Iran launched surface-to-surface missiles in attacks on the Ain al-Assad and Erbil bases as revenge for the killing of Gen Qassim Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad last week.

There are so far no reports of casualties, but it was Iran's most direct assault on America since the 1979 seizing of the US Embassy in Tehran. The operation was codenamed "Martyr Soleimani".

In a tweet, Donald Trump said: "All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good!

"We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning."

In a sign that Tehran was seeking to draw a line under the recent escalation of tensions, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said: “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression”.

Pieces of missiles are seen at the rural area of Al-Baghdadi town after Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)  Credit:  Anadolu

Meanwhile, Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei has said the missile strikes were a "slap in the face" for Washington.

The head of state reiterated added that the US may have 'cut off Soleimani's arm' but Iran would respond by 'cutting off your leg' in the Middle East region.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard, a branch of the Iranian army close to the country's supreme leader, has ordered the White House to "recall US troops" from the region.

The Pentagon confirmed the attacks: “At approximately 5.30pm (EST) on January 7, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq.

"It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting US military and coalition personnel at Al-Assad and Irbil.”

What we know so far

  1. Iran launches more than a dozen rockets at US bases in Iraq
  2. Al-Assad and Erbil bases targeted
  3. Trump tweets: "All is well!" and "So far, so good!"
  4. Price of oil leaps after attack
  5. Operation codenamed "Martyr Soleimani"
  6. No casualties reported

Defense Department spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said: "It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran."

He said the attacks "targeted at least two Iraqi military bases" and that the US is "working on initial battle damage assessments". There are about 5,000 American troops in Iraq.

Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, and Mark Esper, the defence secretary, arrived quickly at the White House to brief the president.

Mr Raab said: "We condemn this attack on Iraqi military bases hosting Coalition - including British - forces. 

He added: "A war in the Middle East would only benefit Daesh and other terrorist groups."

Oil prices jumped up after the attack. US crude was up 1.2 per cent to more than $63 a barrel, coming down slightly from a 4 per cent spike earlier. Gold reached a six-year high as worried investors headed for safe-haven assets.

10:52PM

Foreign Sec describes 'busy afternoon' in Washington

Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, held meetings with his US counterpart Mike Pompeo to discuss a way to cool the Iran crisis, as well as the US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and several member of Congress.

10:45PM

Top US general says Iran intended to hit Americans

The chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff has disputed reports that Iran deliberately avoided hitting Americans during its ballistic missile attack on US forces in Iraq. 

“I believe based on what I saw and what I know that they were intended to cause structural damage destroy vehicles and equipment and aircraft and to kill personnel,"  General Mark Milley told reporters on Wednesday. "That’s my own personal assessment".

Administration officials had privately suggested Iran had intentionally avoided firing missiles at American personnel, which would have further escalated tensions between Tehran and Washington.

“Why were there no casualties? In my estimation from what I know now, I think it has more to do with the defensive techniques that our forces used as opposed to intent," General Milley added.

10:39PM

Two rockets hit Iraqi capital's Green Zone

Two rockets landed late on Wednesday in Baghdad's Green Zone, the high-security enclave where foreign embassies including the US mission are based, the Iraqi military confirmed. The US embassy may have been the intended target but there are no casualties.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

10:34PM

Republican slams 'un-American' handling of Iran crisis

Republican senator Mike Lee has backed calls for restrictions on Mr Trump's war powers after receiving a cofidential intelligence briefing on the Iran situation , calling  it the “worst briefing I’ve had on a military issue in my nine years” in the Senate.

"It is not acceptable for officials within the [Trump administration]…to come in and tell us that we can't debate and discuss the appropriateness of military intervention against Iran. It's un-American. It's unconstitutional and it's wrong," he told reporters on Capitol Hill.

The Utah senator said he remained unsure whether Mr Trump was right to authorise the attack against Iranian general Qassim Soleimani because the officials giving the briefing did not offer specific details on the attacks the general was planning against the US.

‪Mr Lee said the administration would not commit to new AUMF ( by which the US Congress authorises use of military force) or a cite a reason for coming to Congress before taking future military action.

9:10PM

US House to vote to prevent Trump from Iran war 

The Democratic-led US House of Representatives will vote Thursday to prevent Mr Trump from war with Iran after he ordered the killing of a top general, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

Ms Pelosi said that the Democrats will move forward as their concerns were not addressed in a closed-door briefing Wednesday involving Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

8:46PM

Oil prices slump as Mideast conflict worries fade

Oil prices tumbled and equity markets soared after Mr Trump said "Iran appears to be standing down" in a White House statement confirming no US troops had been harmed by Tuesday's missile strikes.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq stock indexes hit record highs after Mr Trump's remarks and crude oil prices slumped.

Gold had surged past $1,600 for the first time in nearly seven years in earlier trade before discarding gains as fears of a larger conflict abated, leading investors to move out of safe-haven assets as risk appetite returned.

Brent oil futures slid off a four-month peak hit in frenzied early trade soon after the Iranian attack.

"Once Trump spoke and suggested that this is basically done for now, risk took off. We're back to the all-time highs in the S&P and accordingly, so-called safe assets sold off," said Jacob Oubina, senior US economist at RBC Capital Markets.

7:57PM

NATO chief agrees allies can do more in Middle East 

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg spoke with  Mr Trump on Wednesday and agreed that the western allies should take a more prominent role in the Middle East.

"The President asked the secretary general for NATO to become more involved in the Middle East," a NATO statement said, after the call between Washington and Brussels.

"They agreed that NATO could contribute more to regional stability and the fight against international terrorism."

6:16PM

Iranian cleric: Stand down 

Influential Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said on Wednesday the crisis Iraq was experiencing is over following de-escalation rhetoric from both Iran and the U.S. and called on militia groups not to carry out attacks.

A new strong Iraqi government able to protect the nation's sovereignty and independence should be formed in the next 15 days and usher in an early election, the populist cleric said in a statement, adding that Iraqis should still seek to expel foreign troops, however.

"I call on the Iraqi factions to be deliberate, patient, and not to start military actions, and to shut down the extremist voices of some rogue elements until all political, parliamentary and international methods have been exhausted," he said.

4:46PM

Donald Trump's demand that UK and others withdraw from nuclear deal in full 

The very defective JCPOA expires shortly anyway and gives Iran a clear and quick path to nuclear breakout," he told a press conference at the White House.

"Iran must abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism...the time has come for the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and China to recognise this reality.

They must now break away from the remnants of the Iran deal - or JCPOA - and we must all work together towards making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place.

4:38PM

Trump: We do not want to use our weapons

Mr Trump says he does not want to use military force against Iran but is ready to do so if necessary. He concludes by saying America is ready to embrace peace with the people of Iran. 

4:36PM

Trump: We no longer need oil from Middle East 

Mr Trump says he will ask Nato to become "much more involved" in the Middle East process. 

He claims the US is now energy independent and no longer relies on oil from the Middle East, and that US forces are "stronger than ever before." 

4:34PM

Trump: Britain and others must withdraw from Iran deal 

Mr Trump says Iran responded to the generous terms of the Iran nuclear deal by "chanting death to America" instead of saying thank you to Washington, adding that Iran's involvement in terrorism has only worsened since. 

He says Iran "must abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism."

Mr Trump calls on Britain and other European countries to withdraw from the Iran deal, as the US has already done. 

4:32PM

Trump: More sanctions to hit Iran 

Mr Trump says Soleimani would have carried out more attacks if he had not been killed and that "he should have been terminated long ago."

He says the United States will "immediately" impose additional sanctions on the Iranian regime. 

4:31PM

Trump says Soleimani was a "reckless terrorist" 

Mr Trump says the killing of Qassim Soleimani was a step to stop a "reckless terrorist" from taking American lives. 

"He viciously wounded and murdered thousands of US troops," he says. 

4:30PM

Trump says Iran is "standing down."

Mr Trump says Iran "appears to be standing down" which is a "good thing" for the rest of the world. 

He adds that a US early warning system detected the Iranian missiles which helped avoid casualties. 

4:29PM

Trump speaks

President Trump says the American people should be extremely grateful and happy as no Americans were harmed in Iran's attack.

"All of our soldiers are safe," he says. 

4:27PM

Trump discusses Iran with Johnson

Boris Johnson and Donald Trump have discussed the missile strikes over the phone and agreed to "keep in touch," a Downing Street spokesman has said. 

4:07PM

Waiting for Trump 

View here of the podium where the US president is due to respond to the Iranian strike very shortly:

Screenshot of President Trump's podium

 

3:52PM

Busy day at the White House

Mr Trump's statement is now open to all US media, which has led to a feeding frenzy to get a seat inside the room, according to White House reporters. 

As Mr Trump is one of the most unpredictable Presidents in US history, all eyes will be on this speech to assess whether the crisis with Iran will escalate further. 

2:43PM

Trump to speak out on Iran at 4pm UK time

Donald Trump will address the nation in a speech at 4pm UK time, according to the White House. 

Stay with us for the latest updates. 

 

2:18PM

More details on bases hit by Iran

Raf Sanchez in Jerusalem writes: 

Iran's missiles targeted the al-Asad airbase in western Iraq and a smaller airbase near Irbil in northeast Iraq. Both are Iraqi bases which host Western military forces.

Al-Asad (“The Lion”) is the second largest airbase in Iraq after Balad airbase in Baghdad. It is home to around 1,500 Western military personnel, mostly Americans but also some British. 

The US flies fighter jets, drones, and transport aircraft from al-Asad. Mr Trump and his wife Melania visited the base on Boxing Day 2018 and addressed US troops there.   

The base was established by Iraq’s Ba’ath regime in the 1970s and then taken over Western forces during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. 

The Irbil base is significantly smaller but was a key hub for coalition forces in the fight against the Islamic State (Isil).

The base is in the Kurdish-controlled northeast of Iraq, meaning it is much harder for pro-Iran Shia militias to target with rocket fire. 

2:04PM

Safety warning for French in Israel 

French citizens in the Israeli city of Haifa have been urged to stay out of public places amid concerns they could be targeted by supporters of Iran. 

senior Iran figures have suggested Israel would be one of its key targets as part of retaliation for the Soleimani killing.  

1:25PM

'No retreat' 

The Iranian president is quoted as saying the regime "won't retreat in the face of America." 

12:13PM

PM urges Iran to stop violence

 

12:11PM

PM: There appears to be no UK casualties 

 

12:00PM

Nato condemns bombing

 

11:41AM

Iranian propaganda painting distorted picture of strikes 

Raf Sanchez in Jerusalem writes:

To the outside world, Iran’s “severe revenge” may look like a bit of a dud.

No American troops were killed in the missile attack. At least one missile landed harmlessly in a field nowhere near its target. 

But inside Iran state media is telling a different story. State television reported that at least “80 American terrorists” were killed in the attack. 

Pro-government media is full of images of the ballistic missiles streaking through the night towards their targets. 

A doctored picture is circulating showing Ayatollah Khamenei in the control room as the missiles were fired (the photo is actually from several years ago). 

The supreme leader was able to appear before a crowd in Tehran this morning and say with a straight face that his forces had delivered “a slap in the face” to the US. 

This split screen reality - where Iranians and Americans are being told totally different things - improves the chances for peace. 

Both sides can potentially claim victory and move towards de-escalation if they feel they haven't lost face in front of their publics.

11:25AM

Iranian President tweets warning to US

 This is a tweet from Iran's President, who appears to be mirroring President Trump's social media-led diplomacy. 

10:59AM

Expert: prepare for long proxy conflict 

An expert on Iranian affairs has warned the missile strike is likely to trigger a lengthy conflict waged by Iranian proxies against US allies. 

"Make no mistake about it: this is the beginning of a very prolonged confrontation between Iran and its proxies and the United States and its allies," Fawaz Gerges, a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics, said earlier in an interview with the BBC. 

He added that both sides appeared to be "climbing down" from direct conflict, but the situation remained unstable. 

10:56AM

Iran crisis is stemming aid flow, Nordic Refugee Council warns 

The escalating cycle of reprisals between the United States and Iran is threatening the delivery of aid to millions across the Middle East, the Norwegian Refugee Council warned Wednesday.

"Tens of millions of people across the Middle East need humanitarian assistance. Most of them are already devastated or displaced by conflict," NRC chief Jan Egeland said in a statement.

"Another confrontation among international and regional powers would be deadly for aid lifelines on the brink of collapse," he warned.

The killing last week in a US strike in Baghdad of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani has touched off a bloody cycle of tit-for-tat violence between the two foes.

Iran responded by firing missiles on a US air base in western Iraq overnight. Each side has warned the other that any new attack would trigger a fierce response.

10:45AM

Early detection system spared US troops 

US troops scrambled into bunkers after an early warning that Iranian missiles were on the way, USA Today reports. 

The news website said that a National Security Base in Maryland detected the strike from 6,000 miles away, citing a defence official. 

The US says there have been no American casualties. 

10:41AM

Iraqi paramilitary vows response to Iranian strike 

 

10:27AM

Iran strike: key questions answered 

Raf Sanchez, our Middle East Correspondent, has answers to the key questions following the Iranian missile strike. 

Is Iran’s attack over?

Iran is signaling that it does not plan further direct attacks against the US and is not looking for further escalation.  

“Iran took and concluded proportionate measures in self-defence,” said Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister. “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.” 

What happens next?

The ball is firmly in Donald Trump’s court. 

The US president must decide if he’s prepared to ignore the Iranian missiles and move on, in which case there is a good chance the cycle of escalation stops, or whether American credibility and his own political prestige demand that the US retaliates. 

If he chooses the second option we should expect more shooting in the days to come. 

Mr Trump is due to speak on Wednesday morning US time but his early response has been uncharacteristically relaxed. 

Is this enough to satisfy Iran’s need for revenge?

It will be a bit humbling for Iran if their “severe revenge” for Soleimani’s death is essentially a fireworks show that didn’t kill anyone. 

But there may also be sighs of relief in Tehran that no Americans were killed as the Iranian regime is eager to avoid a head-on war with superior US forces. 

And it can muddy the waters in the information war by suggesting to its own public that the Western media is lying that there were no US casualties. 

Meanwhile, it is likely to continue planning covert action against US interests.

Is it politically possible for Trump to ignore the missiles?

Mr Trump threatened last week to hit 52 targets in Iran in retaliation for any Iranian strike and his public image is built upon being the tough man who brooks no defiance from Iran. So it will be a bit of a political climb down for him to let these missiles go unanswered. 

But there is a political win here for Mr Trump if he chooses to take it. He doesn’t want a war with Iran and he knows the American public doesn’t either. 

10:24AM

Iran gave Iraq little warning of strike 

According to our Middle East Correspondent, Iraq says it was warned by Iran last night that a strike was incoming - but only when it had already begun.  

 

10:21AM

EU Commission chief: Use of weapons must stop now

 

9:31AM

Police "extremely alert" to any effect Iran crisis may have in UK

Police are monitoring the crisis in Iran and are "extremely alert" to any effect it may have in the UK, the country's most senior officer has said.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick told LBC that head of UK counter-terror policing Neil Basu has been in discussions with the security agencies and government bodies about the crisis. She told host Nick Ferrari: "It's a very worrying time clearly and we have lots of people of Iranian and Iraqi heritage and the surrounding areas in London, so there's lots for us to think about, lots for us to be alert to.

"What I can say is so far in London we have had no issues directly associated with this, there was one quite small protest. "But of course we're extremely alert to what this could possibly lead to, but it's a very complex situation. At the moment there's absolutely no impact on London."

Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Credit: Reuters

Dame Cressida, herself a former chief of counter-terrorism policing, said the force is "very adept" at measuring possible domestic threats linked to international events. "Being the international city that we are, with the multiplicity of communities and also the threats that we have had to face over the years which change and morph all the time, we are very, very adept at seeing what's happening around the world, reaching out into communities and looking at the possible threats and risks that might come," she said.

"That's what we're doing on a day by day basis, and in response to this." The UK's terror threat level remains at substantial, meaning an attack is likely.

9:24AM

EU: This violence is in no one's interests

Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign affairs chief, says:

The latest rocket attack on airbases in Iraq used by US and coalition forces - among them European - are yet another example of escalation and increased confrontation. It is in no-one’s interest to turn up the spiral of violence even further.

8:26AM

Germany calls for end to 'spiral' of conflict

Germany's defence minister condemned Iranian missile attacks on Iraqi bases housing coalition military on Wednesday morning, and called on Tehran to end a "spiral" of conflict.

"The German government strongly condemns this aggression... it is now primarily up to the Iranians to refrain from further escalation," Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told broadcaster ARD.

8:01AM

Snap analysis: ball is in Donald Trump’s court

The muted missile strikes appear to be humbling for Iran. But Trump's next move will dictate where the crisis goes next, writes Raf Sanchez, the Telegraph's Middle East correspondent

When Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, ordered his military to retaliate for Qassim Soleimani’s death he reportedly gave them three criteria: 

- The attack should be carried out openly by Iran’s military, not some proxy group.

- It should be aimed directly at US forces, not American allies or commercial interests.

- It should significant but also small enough to avoid starting a full-blown war.

Last night’s missile barrage against US bases in Iraq seems to have met all three of those criteria and Iran is now signaling it doesn’t want any further escalation. 

“Iran took and concluded proportionate measures in self-defence,” said Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister. “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.” 

The Revolutionary Guard put out a more bellicose statement on what it called “Operation Martyr Soleimani” but said it would only launch more strikes if the US retaliated.  

It will be a bit humbling for Iran that their “severe revenge” for Soleimani’s death was essentially a fireworks show that didn’t kill anyone. But there may also be sighs of relief in Tehran that no Americans were killed. 

The Iranian regime now has video footage of its missiles lifting off into the night in defiance of the US, which will no doubt play on a loop for days on pro-government television. And it can muddy the waters by suggesting Western media is lying that there were no US casualties. 

The ball is now firmly in Donald Trump’s court. 

The US president must decide if he’s prepared to ignore the Iranian missiles and move on, in which case there is a good chance the cycle of escalation stops, or whether American credibility and his own political prestige demands that the US retaliates. 

If he chooses the second option expect more shooting in the days to come. 

7:51AM

'A slap in the face of the US'

Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei has said the Iranian missile strikes on US bases overnight was a 'slap in the face' for Washington.

The head of state reiterated that US troops should leave the region, saying the US and Israel were Iran's enemies.

He also used his speech to rekindle attacks on the nuclear deal, saying that a renegotiation of the accord will only play into the US's hands.

Khamenei added that the US may have 'cut off Soleimani's arm' but Iran would respond by 'cutting off your leg' in the Middle East region.

He said Gen Qassem Soleimani was a "great, brave warrior" and "dear friend to us".

7:36AM

US troops 'scrambled for cover'

It is still unclear if US troops were injured or killed in the missile strikes - despite Donald Trump's claims that "all is good".

Senior US officials have told USA Today that "the early warning system worked" at the Ain Assad base. According to the report "troops stationed at that base did have advance warning of incoming missiles so they were able to scramble for cover".

The officials added that a hangar was damaged at the Ain Assad base. 

6:58AM

Raab: UK condemns "reckless and dangerous attacks"

Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, has condemned the "reckless and dangerous attacks" and called for restraint by Iran. He said: "We condemn this attack on Iraqi military bases hosting Coalition - including British - forces. 

"We are concerned by reports of casualties and the use of ballistic missiles. 

"We urge Iran not to repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks, and instead to pursue urgent de-escalation. 

"A war in the Middle East would only benefit Daesh and other terrorist groups."

6:49AM

Rouhani to address nation

Reuters is reporting that Iran’s president, President Hassan Rouhani, will deliver a speech to the nation following the missile strikes on US targets in Iraq.

President Rouhani will speak to Iranians today Credit: REUTERS

 

6:34AM

Norwegian forces unhurt

About 70 Norwegian troops were also on the Ain al-Assad airbase but no injuries were reported, Brynjar Stordal, a spokesperson for the Norwegian Armed Forces told AP. Canadian forces, also on the base, were unharmed.

6:09AM

Iraq confirms no casualties

Iraqi military officials said there were no casualties among its forces following Iran's attacks. The military said that it recorded a bombardment of 22 missiles between 1.45am and 2.15am on Friday morning. Seventeen of them fell on the Al-Assad base.

5:56AM

Iran claims '80 US casualties'

Farc, Iran's state news agency, is claiming 80 US troops were hurt or killed in this morning's attacks. This seems highly unlikely, but it is clear that the Iranian media are in celebration mode.

Iran also claimed to have damaged helicopters, drones and other equipment at the Ain al-Assad air base.

5:35AM

Passenger plane crashes in Tehran

A plane carrying 170 people has crashed near Tehran shortly after taking off. All passengers and crew are believed to have died.

It is not yet clear if the crash is related to the missile attacks in Iraq.

Read more on that here.

2:58AM

Trump's bizarre tweet: 'All is well! So far, so good!'

In a bizarre tweet after hours of silence, Donald Trump said: "All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good!

"We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning." 

It sounds like he's off to bed for the night.

 

2:45AM

Iran: 'We will defend ourselves'

Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, tweeted a statement that said: “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression”.

 

2:43AM

Democrats criticise ‘needless provocations’  

Nancy Pelosi was handed a note about Iran’s attack during a meeting of House Democrats and the Speaker left soon thereafter, according to people present.

She later tweeted: ”Closely monitoring the situation following bombings targeting U.S. troops in Iraq. We must ensure the safety of our service members, including ending needless provocations from the Administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence. America & world cannot afford war.”

Democratic presidential candidates have also expressed their concern. Elizabeth Warren said: “This is a reminder why we need to de-escalate tension in the Middle East. The American people do not want a war with Iran.”

Joe Biden said: "I just pray to God as he [the president] goes through what’s happening, as we speak, that he’s listening to his military commanders for the first time because so far that has not been the case," he added.

2:21AM

Flag for a flag

After the US attack on Qassim Soleimani, Donald Trump tweeted the American flag.

Moments after Iran launched dozens of missiles against US targets in Iraq, Saeed Jalili - an Iranian politician who is reportedly close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei - tweeted an Iranian flag. 

 

1:57AM

Military jets seen over Baghdad - reports

Military jets could be seen flying over the Iraqi capital, hours after Tehran's attack.

Correspondents for Agence France-Presse saw jets cutting through the clouds over Baghdad but could not immediately identify the planes.

1:40AM

Restricted flights over Persian Gulf - FAA

The Federal Aviation Administration - the US body for regulating civil aviation at home and overseas - has issued an emergency restriction for Persian Gulf airspace following the attacks by Iran, citing "potential for miscalculation or mis-identification".

1:05AM

First pictures: Iran's attack

Iranian state media has released images that allegedly show its attacks on the US targets.

An image from footage of the attack on Ain al-Assad shown on Iranian state television Credit: GETTY IMAGES

 

12:56AM

Oil prices leap up after news of attack

Oil prices spiked on Wednesday morning, rising over 4.5 per cent at one point after Iran's attack.

The benchmark WTI jumped as much as 4.53 per cent to $65.54 a barrel before settling down slightly.

Oil prices hit a six-year high on Monday Credit: BORIS ROESSLER/DPA

 

12:42AM

Pentagon confirms attack

The Pentagon has confirmed the attack: “At approximately 5:30 p.m. (EST) on January 7, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq.

"It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting US military and coalition personnel at Al-Assad and Irbil.”

12:28AM

Iran: 'Any base is a target'

Iran's Revolutionary Guard said the attack was in retaliation for the US killing of Qassim Soleimani.

"We are warning all American allies, who gave their bases to its terrorist army, that any territory that is the starting point of aggressive acts against Iran will be targeted," it said in a statement carried by Iran's state-run IRNA news agency.

12:20AM

President 'monitoring' attack

The White House press secretary has said that Donald Trump “has been briefed and is monitoring the situation” in Iraq after reports of airstrikes on a US and coalition base.